Mike Smith, of Long Beach, Calif., now pays $200 for his family's health insurance policy, compared with the $3,000 a month he would have had to pay on the individual market last year. Stephanie O'Neill for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Stephanie O'Neill for NPR

Kiara Crawford, Brittney Winkler and Jessyca Freeman (left to right) were among those applying for work last month at a job fair in Washington, D.C. Early data from that month signal that job growth may have gained some speed. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Looking for work in Florida. At a November career fair in West Palm Beach, this man had a job application in hand. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images

People looking for work were filling out applications earlier this month at a career fair in Emeryville, Calif. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A recruiter for Cigna greets a job seeker at a career fair in Philadelphia over the summer. Mark Makela /Reuters /Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Makela /Reuters /Landov